Godfather Don, widely regarded as one of the 90s most underrated MCs, is probably best known for his collaboration with Kool Keith as half of The Cenubites, whose 1997 LP on Fondle ‘Em Records, released alongside other now-classics by MF Doom, KMD, Jugganots, Cage and The Arsonists, is considered a cult classic.
This previously unreleased album, which consists of 11 tracks of self-produced, guest-free, classic NY Hip Hop, has languished in the Hydra tape vaults for nearly 10 years and was nearly lost altogether. Recorded from 1999- 2001, Don debuts his alter ego Donnie Brasco, a reference to the 1997 Al Pacino Mob flick of the same name, and exhibits a style that evolved from his complex debut (Hazardous, 1991) and sophomore (Diabolique, 1997) albums into a more “realness”-influenced series of narratives, perhaps taking a cue from his work with Screwball, Ayatollah and other more street-oriented acts.
The guest-free aspect of the album puts it on a short list of similar releases by other artists, and the self-produced angle lends another exceptional element. Even though it is not quite another Illmatic or The Chronic, there is a wealth of lyrical head-cockers, reminding the listener why Don sounded so good alongside Kool Keith in his prime: “big and black like a sleestack”, “mad gas up in her tummy,” “sick breath like old people,” juxtaposing absurd and menacing lyrics, flowing (very well by any standards) over vintage, sinister-sounding beats.